I have several authors who I feel as though should be my soul sister, and Brene Brown is definitely at the top. One of her quotes is one that I will forever want to write in lipstick on my mirror: "You're imperfect, and you're wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging." Let me just repeat the end of that sentence again:
you are worthy of love and belonging.
Say it aloud. How does it feel coming out of your mouth? Does it feel foreign or strange? Did you mumble it, or say it with pride? Over the last several years I have felt the Lord molding me into a new woman. I really do give thanks to some incredible writers such as Shauna Neiquiest in her book Present Over Perfect, Lysa TerKuerst in Uninvited, and Brene Brown in The Gifts of Imperfection. All of these women have taught me through their words that love, acceptance, security, worthiness--are not solely from people...
all of that and more can be found in the arms of our Creator.
Do you remember being an insecure child? Maybe girls picked on you or made fun of your clothes. Maybe you struggled to make good grades or establish meaningful friendships. Perhaps you were beautiful, perhaps school was easy. Were you good at making friendships with girls but not boys? Did you get along with your teachers? I was great at volleyball and terrible at basketball, hello 5 foot nothingness. So much of what we experienced shapes our understanding of our value, our self worth. At some point we realized exactly how much our lives meant to our families, our friends, and ourselves. What worth did you assign yourself? Have you even really consciously considered your own value? I often wish I could go back to 18 year old Ashley, buy her a cup of coffee, look her in the eyes and say,
"You're imperfect, and you're wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging."
and then I'd sit with her to have a good healing cry.
Sisters, our inability to grasp worthiness and grace starts so early. At some point we started selling ourselves short. At some point, we started believing we were not enough. Romans 3:23-24 says, "For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and ALL are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." There is something about the phrases "fall short" and "justified freely" that have always convicted me. How can I fall short, yet receive nothing but grace from the One who created me?
Another favorite author, Timothy Keller, said in his book The Meaning of Marriage, "...When Jesus looked down from the cross, he didn't think "I am giving myself to you because you are so attractive to me." No, he was in agony, and he looked down at us - denying him, abandoning him, and betraying him - and in the greatest act of love in history, he STAYED. He loved us, not because we were lovely to him, but to make us lovely. The value you feel you earned through a lifetime of experiences pales in comparison to the value that Christ sees in you. He valued you enough to give up His throne in Heaven. To give up his morning coffee with God, His Father. To come to our insecure world, and find His way through it to the cross.
If the Creator of all things thinks that YOU are valuable enough to die for, what is stealing your worthiness?
I REALLY want you to think about what is stealing your worthiness. What has robbed you of embracing and believing that YOU are enough?
For me, it was being told that I had monkey ears in the fifth grade. Oh I know, that sounds so silly, and in reality, it was. But when the beautiful popular girl makes you, the new girl, feel less than, it sticks. And I refused to wear my hair up for years to come to hide my monkey ears. As an adult, a woman I considered a best friend, blatantly admitted that she wasn't sure she was up for being friends with "Mom Ashley." In both instances, as small or large they may be, made me question my value--my worth.
At what point do you wish you could go back? Maybe it's eighteen-year-old you, maybe it is younger, or heck, maybe it is current. At what point do you need to be reminded that you are imperfect? You ARE wired for struggle. Was there a girl who made fun of you on the playground? Was there a heartbreaking #metoo moment? You are worthy of love and belonging. The reality is, some of the things we have allowed to shape our self-worth are small and trivial; hello, monkey ears. And some of the things as women we have experienced, have truly affected how we view ourselves, and perhaps forever will.
Let's remind ourselves though, of our worth.
Do you remember how you felt in your mother's arms? And how beautiful you felt on your first date? How proud were you to do well on tests? Or laughing with your best friend in high school, until your sides hurt. Getting accepted to college. Picking your first apartment. Buying your first pet. Balancing your budget. Paying off debt. Going after your dreams. YOU ARE WORTHY! You are strong. No one can take away that you are so unconditionally loved and awesome that God himself CHOSE YOU! My favorite part of that very powerful truth is this, He CHOSE ME, long before I chose him. His love, makes me lovely.
Sisters, to paraphrase Pauls's letter to Colossians "Focus your heart on God and Jesus. Set your minds on his goodness, not earthly pain. For you are hidden within Christ, HE is your life and shares HIS glory with YOU! Which means, you are God's CHOSEN child, holy and dearly loved." (Col. 3)
If ever I am able to buy you a cup of coffee and look you in the eye to say, " You're imperfect, and you're wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging," let that moment be now.
You are valuable.
You are loved.
You are WORTHY.
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